Stupid Genius

- Making mistakes is our rights, learning from them is our responsibilty.

- "I have no choice" is another way of saying "I've have chosen the easier option"

- Genius is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration - Thomas A Edison

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Location: Singapore

Monday, November 14, 2011

My friends know that I am critical of the current government. Some of them has given up on talking about current affairs with me.

Recently, 1 of them say that critising the government has become a religion for me. She think that I would blame the government for a friend's rudeness. Which, unfortunately, I did. Sort of. She think that I would blame the government for someone pretending to sleep while sitting on a priority seat with an old man standing standing in front of him. Which, unfortunately, I did too. I would blame the government for government for feeding the whole nation, which I didn't, though I would think the government can consider feeding some people.

There are people who will blame the government for their being jobless. They will blame the government for their been poor. I don't. I won't blame the government for my being jobless, nor for my being poor. But I will blame the government if our jobless rate is high. I will blame the government rate of increase of poor people are increasing.

Recently, a friend use a online service to ask guest to register to go for his wedding. This smacks of insincerity and rudeness. By registering for his wedding, isn't it like we are asking him to invite us to his wedding? It's like he think his wedding is so great that people want to register for his wedding? And it also suggest that he don't care if you attend for his wedding. A I-can't-be-bothered-to-ask-you-to-attend-my-wedding-personally-you-are-not-worth-the-effort-register-yourself-in-my-website attitude. Except that I don't think that's what he think. He is just being a typical Singaporean (the action is not typical though), to do things the most efficient way, ie, do things with the least effort. Fortunately, most Singaporeans still understand that not everything should be done the easy way. Unfortunately, for him, wedding invitation isn't 1 of those gotta-do-it-the-proper-way thing.

I blame this on the government for culturing a must-do-things-efficiently attitude. They keep harping on how efficient they are, how great they are. If they are great, and they are efficient, it must be good to be efficient? On top of that, they placed so much emphasis on getting a degree. Your career in civil service depends on what kind of degree you get. If you didn't have any? You get peanuts. The real kind of peanuts. And in order to get a degree, you need good scores in all exams before that. And exams in certain subjects only. And if you are not that inclined in those subjects, what can you do if you don't want to be doomed to life of mediocrity? You do it the efficient way. You memorise the textbooks. And worse, the school principal's and the teachers KPI are on how great the students results are. Such that they are not so much on nurturing the young anymore. They need to get good results from the young, the efficient way. There's probably more. Or there's nothing to it. I am reading too much into it. Doing things efficiently is mostly a good thing. But there is going to be side effect in some people. Side effects like what manifested in my friend. He may be wrong. But the society plays a part in him becoming what he is. If I have to be criticised of being critical of the government, I would appreciate if my critic know why I am like that.

Another thing I don't like what is government created is the meritocracy system. Meritocracy system should not a bad thing. But our system's side effect is quite serious. By right, it's good to reward people who do well. But it has evolved that the people who do well think the people who don't do well, they deserve whatever they get. Coupled with the government's policy of giving minimum welfare, which rubs of on citizens, there are people who do no think much of helping people who don't do as well as us. They deserve it for not doing it right in the first place.

I don't like this side effect. I believe in 取之社会,还之社会。 Those do well should help those who doesn't. But there's a problem in this of course. There are bad people who make use of nice people who do well for handouts so that they don't have to work for themselves. So sometimes there are nice people who won't help because they don't want to be "cheated". The why-should-I-spend-money-on-people-who-don't deserve-it? The questions are i) who are people who don't deserve it? and ii) what's the ratio of people who deserves it to those who don't? And what's the cost of knowing the answer? I don't like the current system, but I don't have the answer to a good system. I want more to be done to help the less fortunate, but I want the meritocracy system to continue as well. Whoever can give me the answer to that, gets my vote.

Back to the current meritocracy system, it's a thin line between not helping people who don't deserve it to not giving up priority seats to elderly. Both stems from selfishness. Some believer of our meritocracy are selfish without knowing it. They think because they give up their seats to the elderly, they are not selfish, which they aren't, in a way. Some people think people who don't work do not deserve to be helped, some people think people who don't get seats because they do not deserve it. And I must add, everytime you refused to help someone that you think don't deserve it, if you are wrong, then you are denying help to someone who do. It's about what cost are you willing to pay to help someone who deserve it. If 1 out of every 3 times you helped someone, only 1 deserve it, the cost to help that 1 person is what you spend on all those 3 times. If it's 1 out of 10, then it's all those 10 times. So how much are we willing to pay. Or can we spend some effort/cost to be more sure if the person deserves it? How much effort/cost to spend?

Some time back, I mentioned that I believe in jobless welfare. I have a reason for this. I feel there's a economic lost.Most of us have money commitments. Our mobile bill, our electicity bill, our 3 meals, insurance, etc. Not working is a huge cost, and we won't want to leave a job without a job. So we look for job while still working. I would say that when someone wants to leave, it's likely he won't be that willing toput in extra effort to complete his task. He can be professional about it, and put in best effort during office hours. Nothing more. and during that time, he is looking for job, so he's also likely to take leave to go for interviews. That is a cost to the company, and indirectly, the economy. And companies looking for people will also have to wait at least a month before the person they want to recruit can join them. When we tender our resignation only after we got an offer, we have to work for the company at least 1 more month, depending on company policy. Of course, with any welfare, there will be people who abuse the system. So the question is again, i) How much are there? and ii) what are the cost to find out who deserves to be helped? Again, whoever can find a good balance between helping people and not wasting too much money gets my vote.

My point for the previous paragraph is, I believe in welfare, but I don't believe in welfare for the sake of it. There need to be a good enough reason. I don't like to waste money, but if I have the proper numbers, only then can I decide if the welfare is feasible.

1 more thing. Our CPF. I believe the old should be staying at home and enjoy the fruits of their labour when young. Some country have a pension system. They use the current working population to pay the old people who are not working. This can be a huge strain on the society when there are more old people than young, which we are going to be. But we do not have a pension system. We have the CPF. The CPF makes us save our money so that when we are old, we have enough to survive. There's just a slight problem. We spend our CPF on buying an apartment. And on our medical bill and our parent's medical bill. So what we have for retirement is getting smaller. Such that the more suavy people will invest their cash wisely for their retirement fund. Such irony. Our future retirement money is spent on our current need (roof over our head), which is also an investment as it's supposed to bring us money when we rent it out, or when we sell it. And we spend our current investment for our retirement. For people who tell me CPF is a good thing, when I see so many old people working, whether be it a management position, taxi driver, metal cans collector, I will say CPF fails in what they are supposed to do. You can blame it on them not knowing how to manage their money when young, but the problem is still there.

So after pointing out so many faults of the government, do I think every bad thing is the government's fault? No. Whatever bad thing that befalls an individual, it's always their own fault. Because there must be some ways that they could have done helped themselves but didn't. But when it happens to many individuals, I place the blame on the government as well. Because only the government is capable of affecting the lives of all their country citizen. Even if the cause is not their fault, if enough people are suffering from something, only they could have done something to correct the situation, and if they didn't, they failed. If I see or know 1 person who don't give their seats to elderly, I can try to persuade him. I can even persuade 10. If I see 100 person who don't give their seats to elderly, I can train 10 person, so that they can persuade 10 each. But i won't be able to help 1000, 10000, 100000. Only the government can.

In my mind, our current government has done many bad things. Do I want them out at all cost? No. If they manage to change and improve, I am happy to have them. And if some other group manage to take over them, I would expect them to improve on the current system and yet not lose the good things. A good government, new or old, should be able to recognise what is good now, and what is bad, and improve accordingly.

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